Williams has more than thirty years of experience in the profession of economic development; as a manager, director and executive director; at the regional public/private and local municipal level; and in rural and urban communities. Most recently, he has been managing the City of Rockford’s Economic Development Division for the past seven years. Prior to Rockford, Mark served as the executive director for Growth Dimensions in Belvidere/Boone County for over 11 years, where he led the 501c(6) public/private economic development corporation for the City of Belvidere and Boone County. Before coming to northwest Illinois, he served as the community and economic development director for the City of Salem.
Mark will bring extensive experience in the profession of economic development including entrepreneur development for emerging new uses in ag-based industries, business retention program management, marketing, lead generation and prospect development, incentive and deal structuring negotiations, downtown redevelopment, enterprise zone administration and tax increment financing.
His experience makes him highly effective at building relationships within region and statewide organizations, having chaired the Illinois Development Council and the Illinois Enterprise Zone Association and currently serves on the board of the Illinois Economic Development Association.
“I am honored to have the opportunity to lead the Partnership. The board and staff are to be commended for the work they have done to create and maintain the position of the collaborative partnership. Although it is everyone’s current focus and priority to manage the best we can to get through the crisis we are in, one needs to recognize that business opportunities are often born out of crisis. We know that consumers may shift their habits and patterns but at the same time will always need to access goods and services. It’s the leadership and collaborative structure of the Greater Freeport Partnership that puts the Freeport region in the best position to connect the opportunities to businesses,” said Williams.
While Williams, the board and staff at the Partnership are eager to move forward with new leadership, all parties are very aware of health and economic impacts of COVID-19 and the dramatic precedence it has over all other opportunities at this time. Williams will be entering his position in Stephenson County in mid-May to begin the work of supporting our business and community partners.
“We are faced with incredible structural economic challenges. I am so pleased that we can welcome Mark Williams to our team. His experiences in the economic development world are exactly what we need. He helped keep the Chrysler plant alive when few thought it possible. No one in Illinois has had more experience with enterprise zones and TIFs (tax increment finance districts) than Mark. He is a solid veteran with specific and personal experience in this market. We have a talented team at the Partnership. I am truly grateful for each one of them. With Mark in the lead, I am confident we are ready for the challenges coming our way,” said Gary Quinn, Greater Freeport Partnership Board Chairman.
The Greater Freeport Partnership works to promote the City of Freeport and Stephenson County, support existing businesses and residents while reaching out for new opportunities. The Partnership is the place where organizations and people unite to advocate for the region and drive economic growth. The organization was established in June 2018 joining the missions of the economic development entity, chamber of commerce, tourism bureau and downtown development agency.